It's dawn, and the roads are clear. You decide to take your Harley out for an early morning joy ride. As you coast down the highway--enjoying the sun rise--you notice a car approaching in the lane to your left. As the driver passes you, they simultaneously drift into your lane--forcing you to go tumbling off the road.
Fortunately, you were wearing a helmet--and you survive. But you've suffered considerable injuries--broken bones, road rash and even damage to your eyes from flying debris. You sue the other driver for the damage to your bike, your medical bills and your inability to work.
In such a scenario, you may assume that your case against the other driver is strong. However, it's worth understanding how New Mexico determines fault in motor vehicle accidents.
New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that in an accident, the court will assess whether both parties had any fault that contributed to the accident or resulting injuries. Any percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff is deducted from their full compensation package.
In the above example, the inattentive driver of the car (i.e., the defendant) was in the wrong for failing to notice the motorcyclist in the adjacent lane. However, if the defendant could demonstrate that the plaintiff suffered eye injuries for failing to ride with the legally required eye protection, then the court may find that the plaintiff has partial fault for their injuries.
If you're an accident victim, a determination of shared fault can mean a significant loss in your compensation. For this reason, it's particularly important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side--who can effectively advocate on your behalf.